Are we missing the signs of depression on Facebook?

By Mark A. Leon

“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end. The fog is like a cage without a key.” – Elizabeth Wurtzel

Depression is all around us. It does not discriminate by gender, age or lifestyle. In infects us and spreads like a cancer and takes over our lives. For some, the signs are very clear, while others hide it very well through their actions or lack of actions. With the world being brought at our finger tips, are we missing the clear signs of depression or choosing to turn a blind eye to them?

Facebook is populated by over one-third of the human population. It has bridged our worlds and put the idea of voyeurism and stalking into every day activities. There are so many common indicators of depression and so many of us need to be aware and take action to help.

After all, these are our “friends”.

What are these signs that a person may be suffering from some level of depression or loneliness?:

  • Aggressive use of language on the social networks (Facebook, Google+, Twitter)
  • Needing likes to reinforce value and ensure you are being noticed
  • Constant uploading of self portraits (selfies).  When someone is constantly putting up pictures of themselves or re-issuing their favorites looking for reinforcement of their “beauty”, that can be a clear indicator
  • Constant quotes about seeking a better place, a better life, a true utopia
  • Constantly checking in to reinforce to their circle how socially active they are
  • Posing a number of “what if” questions or commentary on society
  • Not having any pictures of yourself, but friends and family only.  Perhaps a sign of hiding behind unfriendly aging
  • Showing many pictures of drinking or many check ins to bars
  • Late night random thoughts out of character
  • Adding many new friends often.  Needing to be surrounded by strangers and constant attention can be an indicator as well.  Number of “virtual” friends is never a direct correlation of having a support circle.  Often, it can be an indicator of physical and/or emotional loneliness.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.   We can list off another ten or fifteen behavioral indicators on Facebook that could be a silent scream for help.

How many of these have you seen?

How often have you reached out to try and help or even ask if someone needed help?

I have witnessed these signs and later learned of depression, rehab, loneliness, sadness and rejection from these same people.

Maybe Facebook is the great savior for avoidance of responsibility since it is a virtual tool or maybe we have a higher responsibility to help.

Next time you witness behavior that is unorthodox, it doesn’t hurt to ask and just maybe you might be saving a life by unexpectedly being there for someone that truly needs someone.

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